MCN program helps preserve grave sites
OKMULGEE, Oklahoma — Life lost. It is an experience that inevitably happens. Families pay their respects to loved ones who have passed. Wakes and funerals are attended and hymns are sung.
There is a Mvskoke hymn called “Espoketis Omes Kerreskos” that is almost a staple at a Muscogee (Creek) funeral. When translated the song says in the first line, ‘This may be the last time we don’t know,’ followed by stating everyone has gone on.
Time keeps moving, years pass and families go their separate ways. Graves that are forgotten become overgrown and hidden in the wilderness.
The Muscogee (Creek) Nation Historic and Cultural Preservation Department maintains graves and cemeteries that are found on MCN land through its cemetery program.
According to Geographic Information System Cultural Tech Gano Perez, when graves found on MCN property are reported to the department they will go out and verify if the discovered resting places are Muscogee (Creek) citizens.
Once verified, the department collects data that is then applied within the GIS server to create geospatial records of location, condition and cultural significance.
By registering these cemeteries, Perez said it protects them from any federal undertaking such as pipelines, power lines and highway expansions.
“GPS (Global Positioning System) is an integral part of keeping these cemeteries,” he said.
The program provides services for graves that have been neglected over the years such as removing debris, mowing, resetting headstones and sometimes fencing.
Perez said the department documents gravesites down to every single headstone and the material it is made of, whether it is marble, stone or especially grave houses.
Grave houses are important to the program because of their cultural significance.
“We want to make sure we know where the grave houses are that way in the event of a fire,” Perez said.
Information provided by the department addresses the need to document family and church cemeteries for the preservation and knowledge of future generations. The flier states, ‘These gems of cultural knowledge are held sacred to our people and shall never be disturbed.’
For more information about the program, call: 918-756-8700